Conifer boys lacrosse back on track with win over Ralston Valley

Conifer's Kyle Curtis, left, and Ralston Valley's Ben Takata race after a loose ball Friday at Trailblazer Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

LAKEWOOD — Scoring goals shouldn’t be much of a problem for Conifer’s boys lacrosse team this spring.

The Lobos, No. 5 in the latest CHSAANow.com Class 4A boys lacrosse poll, showed off their offensive skill Friday at Trailblazer Stadium in Lakewood scoring a season-high 16 goals in the non-league victory over 5A’s Ralston Valley. The 16-5 win ended a 3-game losing streak for Conifer, a 4A state quarterfinalist last season.

“Our last three games were definitely really rough for us. We couldn’t get clicking,” Conifer senior Mason Meyer said. “Today was a game where we could put everything together and play well.”

Meyer and fellow senior attacker Chase Phelps scored five goals each for the Lobos (2-3 record). Seniors Caleb Crawford, Riley Miller and junior Nick Williams each had two goals apiece for Conifer.

The Lobos grabbed a double-digit lead by late in the third quarter.

“A lot of us were feeling down after the last two games,” Phelps admitted.

There was plenty of smiles and laughing on the Lobos’ sideline as they went into spring break on a winning note. Conifer had played a challenging schedule to start the season, including suffering losses to 4A top-5 teams Valor Christian and Cheyenne Mountain.

Conifer's Nick Williams threads a pass past a pair of defenders' sticks. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletic)

“We love the hard schedule,” Phelps said. “Last year our schedule wasn’t too rough. We looked good, but when it came down to playing hard teams it was kind of tough for us. I think the tough schedule is a positive for us.”

Despite the losses, Conifer has demonstrated plenty of offensive firepower scoring double-digit goals in four straight games. Junior Ryan Lindsay picked up the victory in net for the Lobos against the Mustangs.

“We have been working on defense a lot and possessing the ball a lot to give the defense a break,” Meyer said. “We just need to work on balancing, scoring a lot of goal and getting possession time.”

Conifer has plenty of returning experience from last year’s team that had a program best 14-2 record. However, something that is new is first-year coach Paul Taylor.

Taylor was an assistant coach for a high school (Texas Military Institute) in San Antonio, Texas last year. He applied for the position to take over Conifer’s program and clearly has no regrets.

“It’s a beautiful place and a great school,” Taylor said. “It’s hard to say no to a successful program. It’s the best situation I’ve found. It’s been great so far. I’m excited to be here.”

The Lobos return from spring break with home games in Conifer against Eagle Valley (April 4) and Summit (April 8) before diving into 4A Foothills League play. Conifer opens conference play against No. 7 Green Mountain (4-0) on April 12 at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada.

Conifer's Kyle Curtis, right, checks Ralston Valley's Harrison Frase on Friday. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Ralston Valley (1-4, 0-1 in 5A Front Range League) is in its first year with a varsity program. The Mustangs have a very young team with just one senior. Ralston Valley grabbed its first victory in the program’s history earlier this week with a 5-3 win over Denver South.

“It’s an eye-opener to these young guys,” said Ralston Valley coach Jason McNelis, who started the program last season coaching the Mustangs’ junior varsity squad. “Last year we had one loss at JV. Varsity level is a big step.”

Ralston Valley got goals a pair of goals from junior Jonas Escobar in the loss Friday in the loss. Ben Takata, Cameron McNelis and Lido Albiani also scored for the Mustangs.

Historically, the Arvada area has produced some good talent that has played for powerhouse Wheat Ridge over the years. Ralston Valley is the first boys lacrosse program in Arvada. McNelis said he has about 65 players in the program right now.

“Really having them believe in themselves and have the faith they are going to grow,” McNelis said of his goals this season. “In two or three years this is going to be a phenomenal team.”

The Mustangs return from spring break to face 4A’s No. 4 Golden on April 5 at NAAC.

Ralston Valley's Chase Wilson (5) finds some room to run Friday at Trailblazer Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)